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Allen Peterson: Galleries of work

            Communities are central to my work, both in the creative process and in the themes that I investigate.  I enjoy working with communities of people as an integral part of the production of large-scale public art projects.  Even in the more private setting of the studio, my work tends to involve the ideas of systems, structure, cooperation, and interdependence that can describe the formation of a community.

            Themes of maps and bees in my work are metaphors for the interconnections that make up a community.   A map is not a neutral documentation of a location, but forms a portrait of the mapmaker’s priorities through the information about that location that it includes or leaves out.  I use map imagery to play with the ideas of how we try to understand our surroundings and our world.


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Anchor 1: Gallery 1: maps

Recent work: Paradigms series           

This series of cut paper work is from my exhibition "Hive Life", in the Main Gallery of South River Art Studios, Nov 2021



            Like humans, honeybees form mental maps of their surroundings.  They can communicate the precise location of external resources to other bees within the hive in a language that is based on dance and rhythm.  Bees are a model of community and cooperation that for me suggests the question of how we humans are like bees, and how we are unlike bees. I use materials and processes that relate to the history of industry, such as steel and cast iron, or mold-making and duplicative casting, to relate human effort to the beehive’s iconic industriousness.  Individual elements combine to form structures based on interrelationships.  The systematization of my own production becomes part of the piece as the rules of a game or a system of work. 


Anchor 2: Gallery 2: bees
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            Beyond the bees’ unified work within the hive, for various reasons honeybees have become interdependent with humans.  In 2007, the emergence of Colony Collapse Disorder gave more urgency to the topic of honeybees.  The well-being of honeybees has become a barometer for the environmental health of the planet and the ways in which humans continually impact the global ecosystem.  The relatively abstract ideas of system and community in my work sharpened into more specific questions of interdependence, and the problem of pollinating the crops that humans depend on for food.  I started to raise honeybee hives as a beekeeper, to gain the knowledge of bees provided only by firsthand experience.  I embraced using beekeeping as a sculptural medium, entering the dialogue between the various artists who collaborate with bees.

            The work, whether focused on maps or bees or both as subject matter, is an investigation of the nature of the systems and structure that can make a hive-like synergy possible in our own human communities.  I see my work as a continued questioning of how well we understand ourselves, each other, and our world.  My hope is that the viewer may see the possibilities at play within the structure of the work and accompany me on a journey of inquiry.


flora / fauna gallery:

The "flora/fauna" series is inspired by recent collaborations with my friend and local naturalist Charlie Muise.  Conversations with Charlie directed my research into various species of wildlife that live in Georgia.  My love of nature and fascination with natural processes fueled a deepening of my knowledge of local ecosystems and species that make this land their habitat.  That knowledge informed the metalwork that I made for Charlie, and the resulting imagery has continued to steer a course for the work in this series of artwork.

This work was a pop-up exhibition held at Wonderspace Atlanta during November and December 2017.  I designed each of the works in this series digitally, and realized them with a CNC plasma cutter in editions of five. 

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flora/fauna gallery
Gallery: public practice

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Anchor 3: Gallery 3: public practice
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